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The netinstall CD, which also can be used for installation from USB flash drives, is suited to install on i386 and amd64 machines. It's available via The netinstall CD, which also can be used for installation from USB flash drives, is suitable to install i386 and amd64 machines. It's available via

Installation and download options

Where to find additional information

We recommend that you read or at least take a look at the release notes for Debian Jessie before you start installing a system for production use. Please give Debian Edu/Skolelinux a try, it should just work. :-)

/!\ Be sure to read the getting started chapter of this manual, though, as it explains how to log in for the first time.

Even more information about the Debian Jessie release is available in its installation manual.

Download the installation media for Debian Edu 8.0+edu0 Codename "Jessie"

netinstall CD image for i386, amd64

The netinstall CD, which also can be used for installation from USB flash drives, is suitable to install i386 and amd64 machines. It's available via

USB flash drive / Blue-ray disc ISO image for i386 and amd64

The multi-architecture ISO image is 5.2 GiB large and can be used for installation of amd64 and i386 machines. Please note that internet access during installation is needed. Like the others it can be downloaded over FTP, HTTP or rsync via:

Source image

The source image is available via

Request a CD / DVD by mail

For those without a fast Internet connection, we can offer a CD or DVD sent for the cost of the CD or DVD and shipping. Just send an email to cd@skolelinux.no and we will discuss the payment details (for shipping and media) :) Remember to include the address you want the CD or DVD to be sent to in the email.

Installing Debian Edu

When you do a Debian Edu installation, you have a few options to choose from. Don't be afraid; there aren't many. We have done a good job of hiding the complexity of Debian during the installation and beyond. However, Debian Edu is Debian, and if you want there are more than 42,000 packages to choose from and a billion configuration options. For the majority of our users, our defaults should be fine.

Select type of installation

Installer boot menu

Install is the default text mode installation on i386 and amd64.
64 bit install does an amd64 text-mode install.
Graphical install uses the GTK installer where you can use the mouse.
64 bit graphical install uses the amd64 GTK installer where you can use the mouse.
Advanced options > gives a sub menu with more detailed options to choose
Help gives some hints on using the installer

Installer advanced options screen 1

Back.. brings back to the main menu.
Expert install gives access to all available questions in text mode.
Rescue mode makes this install medium become a rescue disk for emergency tasks.
Automated install needs a preseed file.
64 bit expert install gives access to all available questions in text mode on amd64.
64 bit rescue mode makes this install medium become a rescue disk for emergency tasks on amd64.
64 bit automated install needs a preseed file.

Installer advanced options screen 2

Graphical expert install gives access to all available questions in graphical mode.
Graphical rescue mode makes this install medium become a rescue disk for emergency tasks with a graphical GTK look.
Graphical automated install needs a preseed file.
64 bit graphical expert install gives access to all available questions in graphical mode on amd64.
64 bit graphical rescue mode makes this install medium become a rescue disk for emergency tasks on amd64 with a graphical GTK look.
64 bit graphical automated install needs a preseed file.

Installer help screen

This Help screen is self explaining and enables the <F>-keys on the keyboard for getting more detailed help on the topics described.

Additional boot parameters for installations

On i386/amd64, boot options can be edited by pressing the TAB key in the boot menu.

  • The multi-architecture USB flash drive / Blue-ray disc image defaults to using amd64-installgui on 64-bit x86 machines, and installgui on 32-bit x86 machines.
  • If you want to boot the amd64 text mode with the multi-architecture image, that would be amd64-install.

  • Likewise you can choose amd64-expertgui to get the GUI version on amd64.

  • If you want to boot the i386 mode with the multi-arch image on an amd64 machine you need to manually select install (text mode) or expertgui (graphical mode).

  • You can use an existing HTTP proxy service on the network to speed up the installation of the main server profile from CD. Add mirror/http/proxy= as an additional boot parameter.

  • If you have already installed the main server profile on a machine, further installations should be done via PXE, as this will automatically use the proxy of the main server.
  • To install the GNOME desktop instead of the KDE "Plasma" desktop, add desktop=gnome to the kernel boot parameters.

  • To install the LXDE desktop instead, add desktop=lxde to the kernel boot parameters.

  • To install the Xfce desktop instead, add desktop=xfce to the kernel boot parameters.

  • And to install the MATE desktop instead, add desktop=mate to the kernel boot parameters.

The installation process

Remember the system requirements and make sure you have at least two network cards (NICs) if you plan on setting up a thin client server.

  • Choose a language (for the installation and the installed system)
  • Choose a location which normally should be the location where you live.
  • Choose a keyboard keymap (the country's default is usually fine)
  • Choose profile(s) from the following list:
    • Main-Server

      • This is the main server (tjener) for your school providing all services pre-configured to work out of the box. You must only install one main server per school! This profile does not include a graphical user interface. If you want a graphical user interface, then select Workstation or Thin-Client-Server in addition to this one.
    • Workstation

      • A computer booting from its local hard drive, and running all software and devices locally like an ordinary computer, except that user logins are authenticated by the main server, where the users' files and desktop profile are stored.
    • Roaming workstation

      • Same as workstation but capable of authentication using cached credentials, meaning it can be used outside the school network. The users' files and profiles are stored on the local disk. For single user notebooks and laptops this profile should be selected and not 'Workstation' or 'Standalone' as suggested in earlier releases.
    • Thin-Client-Server

      • A thin client (and diskless workstation) server, also called a LTSP server. Clients without hard drives boot and run software from this server. This computer needs two network cards, a lot of memory, and ideally more than one processor or core. See the chapter about networked clients for more information on this subject. Choosing this profile also enables the workstation profile (even if it is not selected) - a thin client server can always be used as a workstation, too.

    • Standalone

      • An ordinary computer that can function without a main server (that is, it doesn't need to be on the network). Includes laptops.
    • Minimal

      • This profile will install the base packages and configure the machine to integrate into the Debian Edu network, but without any services and applications. It is useful as a platform for single services manually moved out from the main-server.

    The Main Server, Workstation and Thin Client Server profiles are preselected. These profiles can be installed on one machine together if you want to install a so called combined main server. This means the main server will be a thin client server and also be used as a workstation. This is the default choice, since we assume most people will install via PXE afterwards. Please note that you must have 2 network cards installed in a machine which is going to be installed as a combined main server or as a thin client server to become usefull after the installation.

/!\ The ordering of the network cards after installation might differ from the ordering during installation. The wanted ordering can be achieved by editing /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules: Usually if this happens, you will want to replace eth0 with eth1 and eth1 with eth0; a reboot is needed for the changes to take effect.

  • Say "yes" or "no" to automatic partitioning. Be aware that saying "yes" will destroy all data on the hard drives! Saying "no" on the other hand will require more work - you will need to make sure that the required partitions are created and are big enough.
  • Please say "yes" to submitting information to http://popcon.skolelinux.org/ to allow us to know which packages are popular and should be kept for future releases. Although you don't have to, it is a simple way for you to help. :)

  • Wait. If the selected profiles include Thin-client-server then the installer will spend quite some time at the end, "Finishing the installation - Running debian-edu-profile-udeb..."
  • After giving the root password, you will be asked to create a normal user account "for non-administrative tasks". For Debian Edu this account is very important: it is the account you will use to manage the Skolelinux network.

    /!\ The password for this user must have a length of at least 5 characters - otherwise login will not be possible (even though a shorter password will be accepted by the installer).

  • Be happy

Notes on some characteristics

A note on notebooks

Most likely you will want to use the 'Roaming workstation' profile (see above). Be aware that all data is stored locally (so take some extra care over backups) and login credentials are cached (so after a password change, logins may require your old password if you have not connected your laptop to the network and logged in with the new password).

A note on multi-arch USB flash drive / Blue-ray disc image installs

After you install from the multi-arch USB flash drive / Blue-ray disc image, /etc/apt/sources.list will only contain sources from that image. If you have an Internet connection, we strongly suggest adding the following lines to it so that available security updates can be installed:

deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ jessie main 
deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main 
deb http://ftp.skolelinux.org/skolelinux jessie local

A note on CD installs

A netinst installation (which is the type of installation our CD provides) will fetch some packages from the CD and the rest from the net. The amount of packages fetched from the net varies from profile to profile but stays below a gigabyte (unless you choose to install all possible desktops). Once you have installed the main-server (whether a pure main-server or combi-server does not matter), further installation will use its proxy to avoid downloading the same package several times from the net.

A note on thin-client-server installations

First of all, this profile name is confusing for historic reasons. Currently this profile actually installs an LTSP server environment for thin-clients and for diskless workstations. Debian bug 588510 has been filed to change the name of the profile into a better suited one.

Providing the kernel boot parameter edu-skip-ltsp-make-client makes it possible to skip the step which converts the LTSP chroot from a thin-client chroot into a combined thin-client/diskless workstation chroot.

This is useful in certain situations, such as if you want a pure thin client chroot or if there is already a diskless chroot on another server, which can be rsynced. For these situations skipping this step will cut down the installation time considerably.

Except for the longer installation time there is no harm in always creating combined chroots, which is why this is done by default.

Installation using USB flash drives instead of CD / Blue-ray discs

Since the Squeeze release it is possible to directly copy the CD/DVD/BD .iso images to a USB flash drive (also known as "USB sticks") and boot from them. Simply execute a command like this, just adapting the file and device names to your needs:

sudo dd if=debian-edu-amd64-i386-XXX.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=1024

Depending on which image you choose, the USB flash drive will behave just like a CD or Blue-ray disc.

Installation over the network (PXE) and booting diskless clients

For this installation method it is required that you have a running main server. When clients boot via the main network, a new PXE menu with installer and boot selection options is displayed. If PXE installation fails with an error message claiming a XXX.bin file is missing, then most probably the client's network card requires nonfree firmware. In this case the Debian Installer's initrd must be modified. This can be achieved by executing the command: /usr/share/debian-edu-config/tools/pxe-addfirmware  on the server.

This is how the PXE menu looks with the Main-Server profile only:


This is how the PXE menu looks with the Main-Server and Thin-Client-Server profiles:


This setup also allows diskless workstations and thin clients to be booted on the main network. Unlike workstations, diskless workstations don't have to be added to LDAP with GOsa², but can be, for example if you want to force the hostname.

More information about network clients can be found in the Network clients HowTo chapter.

Modifying PXE installations

The PXE installation uses a debian-installer preseed file, which can be modified to ask for more packages to install.

A line like the following needs to be added to tjener:/etc/debian-edu/www/debian-edu-install.dat

d-i    pkgsel/include string my-extra-package(s)

The PXE installation uses /var/lib/tftpboot/debian-edu/install.cfg and the preseeding file in /etc/debian-edu/www/debian-edu-install.dat. These files can be changed to adjust the preseeding used during installation, to avoid more questions when installing over the net. Another way to achieve this is to provide extra settings in /etc/debian-edu/pxeinstall.conf and /etc/debian-edu/www/debian-edu-install.dat.local and to run /usr/sbin/debian-edu-pxeinstall to update the generated files.

Further information can be found in the manual of the Debian Installer.

To disable or change the use of the proxy when installing via PXE, the lines containing mirror/http/proxy, mirror/ftp/proxy and preseed/early_command in tjener:/etc/debian-edu/www/debian-edu-install.dat  need to be changed. To disable the use of a proxy when installing, put '#' in front of the first two lines, and remove the "export http_proxy="http://webcache:3128"; " part from the last one.

Some settings can not be preseeded because they are needed before the preseeding file is downloaded. These are configured in the PXElinux-based boot arguments available from /var/lib/tftproot/debian-edu/install.cfg. Language, keyboard layout and desktop are examples of such settings.

Custom images

Creating custom CDs, DVDs or Blue-ray discs can be quite easy since we use the debian installer, which has a modular design and other nice features. Preseeding allows you to define answers to the questions normally asked.

So all you need to do is to create a preseeding file with your answers (this is described in the appendix of the debian installer manual) and remaster the CD/DVD.

Screenshot tour

The text mode and the graphical installation are functionally identical - only the appearance is different. The graphical mode offers the opportunity to use a mouse, and of course looks much nicer and more modern. Unless the hardware has trouble with the graphical mode, there is no reason not to use it.

So here is a screenshot tour through a graphical Main-Server + Workstation + Thin Client Server installation and how it looks at the first boot of the tjener, a PXE boot on the workstation network and on the thinclient network:


















13-Install the base system.png



18-Build LTSP chroot.png





tjener KDM Login

KDE starting...

KDE and Browser

KDE Desktop


Diskless Workstation Login

KDE Desktop